IAN Lucas MP has urged Wrexham Council to reconsider its decision to withdraw funding for the town’s Citizens Advice (CA) service.
Funding for the service has been phased out by the council out over a period covering almost three years, meaning Citizens Advice Wrexham on Grosvenor Road will close in July.
Wrexham is the only local authority in Wales who now make no contribution to CA services.
Mr Lucas has been in contact with both the council and Citizens Advice Wrexham to see what can be done, stressing the vital importance of such an organisation to his constituents.
The Labour MP for Wrexham has written to the council’s executive director Lee Robinson and deputy leader Hugh Jones about the matter.
Mr Lucas wrote: “I am very conscious of the very considerable strain on public services and individual constituents at this time. I think that the withdrawal of funding from Citizens Advice in this context would be highly irresponsible and would have a severe impact on the welfare of the people of Wrexham.
“I do hope the council will reconsider its decision to withdraw funding.”
Staff at the town’s CA office on Grosvenor Road provide free in-depth advice to thousands of clients from the Wrexham and district area each year. The range of cases they work on is broad, covering everything from benefits queries to debt advice, housing issues, people’s rights at work, consumer rights and immigration.
The closure of the centre would mean residents would have nowhere to turn to for help with resolving their urgent and serious problems, Mr Lucas said.
The council’s own in-house service – the Welfare Rights Unit (WRU) – is limited to welfare benefits issues and is only free to people with adult social care needs, cancer patients, carers and anyone in Families First-funded services.
Mr Lucas added: “The council should not be contracting advice services when people desperately need them. Citizens Advice Wrexham provides a vital service and it would be devastating for the people of the town if it was lost.
“The council’s Welfare Rights Unite quite simply does not have the capacity to cover everything handled by the CA office. They only deal with benefits and charge in certain cases.
“They don’t cover debt advice, immigration, consumer rights, small claims, housing applications, rights at work, probate forms, neighbour disputes, divorce and separation, complaints about the Health Service or care homes, or power of attorney matters.
“We can’t afford to lose the town’s CA office and the situation is now extremely urgent.”